ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — After undergoing renovations during the pandemic, an 1870s farmhouse-turned-museum is welcoming visitors to explore the history of Ada Township.
The Ada Historical Society opened the Averill Historical Museum in 1999 to preserve and tell the stories of past Ada residents through permanent and temporary exhibits featuring items donated by residents.
Visitors are invited to explore what life has been like for the past 200 years. The exhibits cover the fur trading post, Ada’s rivers and bridges including covered bridge, the railroad and the depot, including a sign from the 1850s.
“When (the depot) was being torn down, the workers found the old sign up in the attic and then gave it to someone who donated it to the museum,” Kristen Wildes, the museum manager, said. “I just think it’s really special because we have pictures from a hundred years ago of the depot with the sign on it and we also have the sign, which is beautiful.”
“We have a veterans’ corner dedicated to those who have served,” Wildes said. “We’re working on an interactive there that’s in development where people can one day be able to search for people who have served from this community.”
The museum also has a room dedicated to kids called Kidding Around, which features toys from different generations.
“When the kids are here they end up in the Kidding Around room … (and start) practicing cursive on the chalkboards,” Wildes said.
There is a temporary exhibit space that changes annually. It currently highlights the fire department.
Outside the museum, the grounds feature gardens that are taken care of by volunteers.
“It’s a park-like atmosphere here. We have a woodland garden, we have a pollinator garden, we have a variety of different spaces that are maintained by our volunteer master gardeners,” Wildes said. “It’s beautiful.”
In 2000, the historical society moved a barn from the 1870s to the property.
“We were able to receive the barn that moved down Thornapple River Drive to our property from the property of what is today The Community Church where the farmers’ market happens,” Wildes said.
The barn showcases farming machinery, a buggy, a sleigh and more. Wildes said the space is also used for summer camps.
“On the barn, (there) is a barn quilt block. … Ours was actually taken from a quilt that is in our collection that was gifted to a woman whose husband died during the Spanish Influenza in 1918. She moved back to her home in Ada and the community got together and sewed her a quilt to comfort her. We took a design from one of the squares on that quilt to create the barn quilt block that adorns our barn,” Wildes said.
The museum is open from March to December on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can also schedule an appointment. For more information, visit the museum’s website.
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series exploring small community museums around West Michigan. More articles will be published on woodtv.com in the coming weeks.